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Historical sources ascribe the foundation of Seleucia (Seleukeia) Pieria to Seleucos I Nikator, shortly before the foundation of Antioch in the late 4th century BC. The Seleucia Pieria site seems however to have been inhabited earlier, perhaps from around 700 BC, possibly by a Greek population under an Assyrian ruler. The city became of considerable military importance during the wars between the Ptolemies and the Seleucids; it was occupied by the Romans in the 1st century BC, but had practically disappeared in the 6th century AD.

Geomorphological surveys in the area have revealed the existence of elevated marine notches and rims bioconstructed by vermetids, oysters and calcareous algae, which occasionally erode or intersect the archaeological sites, showing that two rapid land uplift movements, probably of seismic origin, took place during the late Holocene. The first movement, which occurred about 2500 ± 100 years bp, was the strongest one and caused a local vertical displacement of about 1.7 m, which may have severely affected the earlier Greek settlement. Though several earthquakes are reported to have occurred in the area during the following ten centuries, none of them seem to have been strong enough to cause significant vertical displacements. The second movement occurred around 1400 years bp, probably in May 526 AD, when a great earthquake followed by tsunami waves is known to have caused devastating damage in Antioch and Seleucia. According to geomorphological data supported by several radiocarbon dates, the earthquake was accompanied by a 0.7 to 0 8 m upheaval. This seismotectonic event also caused a rapid silting of the Seleucia Pieria closed harbour basin and entrances, thus preventing its further use.